The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology asked WhatsApp to clarify issues related to its “privacy and data transfer and sharing policies, and general business practices” within seven days. In an email addressed to WhatsApp’s global head Will Cathcart on Monday, the ministry said the proposed policy changes “will have a disproportionate impact on the Indian citizens.” India is WhatsApp’s largest user base, with over 400 million users.
It asked WhatsApp to answer 14 questions related to the proposed update.
WhatsApp deferred introducing the policy from February 8 to May 15 after facing backlash, saying the update does not change data sharing with Facebook with regard to personal conversations or other profile information. It said the policy changes only address business chats in the event a user converses with a company’s customer service platform through WhatsApp. However, concerns remain, and several users are still opting out of the service.
“These changes enable WhatsApp, and other Facebook companies, to make invasive and precise inferences about users which may not be reasonably foreseen or expected by users in the ordinary course of accessing these services,” said the ministry.
“These changes notify users that WhatsApp will collect highly invasive and granular metadata, such as time, frequency and duration of interactions, group names, payments and transaction data, online status, location indicators, as well as any messages shared by users with business accounts…Whether this will enable better provision of services to users or not is beside the point, the issue is the impact it has on informational privacy, data security and user choice.”